Case Studies

Historic Button Block Building

Location: 500 N Water St, Milwaukee, WI

Service Category: Abatement

Project Manager: Nate Kawlewski

Field Manager: Rafael Villegas

Historic Button Block Building, Balestrieri Environmental

Project Summary

After his father, Henry Harrison Button, passed away, Charles Pearson Button wanted to honor his father’s legacy with a memorial. Charles Button decided he would construct a seven story building on the spot where the United States Hotel once stood-the exact location Charles had been born. Nearly one hundred years after its construction in 1892, the building burst into flames. Luckily, because of its older masonry and timber structural system, the building did not collapse. The upper five floors suffered a layer of alligatoring, or scaly charring, but the first two floors did not. These floors have seen many clubs and restaurants come and go through the years including Brett Favre’s Steakhouse and, most recently, Joey Buona’s.

The high ceilings, large windows, brick archways, and other historic details of the Romanesque facility caught the eye of Bear Development. They purchased the Button Block Building in 2014 and began renovating it into the Homewood Suites in 2016. Strict preservation standards were followed to protect the building’s historic properties. The original wood that could be salvaged was either refinished or repurposed and the red sandstone on the outside of the building was restored. Balestrieri was hired to abate the hazardous materials found in some of the older concrete flooring and remove oil from a hydraulic elevator so that it could be demolished.

Services Provided by Balestrieri

  • Asbestos Abatement
  • Universal Hazardous Waste Removal


It is difficult to initially assess the scope of the hazardous materials found in historical buildings. Button Block was no exception. Each layer of flooring removed uncovered more hazardous materials that needed to be tested and abated by our experts. In addition to its historic components, the busy corner of Water and Clybourn posed logistical challenges for the Balestrieri team in accessing the building.


Our team worked with the general contractor to determine proper access points and create a timeline for the work to be completed. We were able to decommission the elevator so that it could be demolished on time and we professionally abated the flooring so as to aid in the preservation of the historic property.

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Historic Button Block construction projectButton Block, Asbestos Project, Balestrieri Environmental

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